America's War: a view from Europe

America divided; Bush in office because of nepotism; US teens on warships say the war is a crock of shit. War means certain chaos, soaring oposition around the globe. Intensified Muslim anti-western sentiment and retialiation. UN blackmailed, Afgani prisoners of war tortured.

From Europe, the setting for the evolving US attack on Iraq is clear. While the US pushes rhetoric of liberation, European English-language press consistently highlights the US imperialist, oil-driven agenda; the huge potential for a long, dirty, difficult war; and the lack of public support in the US, Europe, across the world.

It is widely acknowledged here in Europe that the US is acting on an imperialist agenda, driven primarily for the need for cheap, dependable oil supplies to fuel market growth, the US´s main imperialist tactic. The 8 European leaders who kowtowed to Bush in their letter of support for ´shared values of freedom´ are working furiously to erase the divide between Europe and the US, hoping to preserve their assumed status as the ´United States of Europe´ within US-lead capitalist world domination. As proof of US-EU power dynamics, the US has in fact offered EU membership to several new NATO states in the Balkans– without first checking with the EU! France and Germany are indeed representing the ´Old Europe´ of Rumsfeld´s pontifications, because they are unwilling to capitulate to their roles as US puppet markets and support the US war effort.

It´s hard here to forget that oil fuels the US market machine, and that Saudi Arabia, with 25% of the known oil reserves, is on the cusp of becoming an anti-US Muslim fundamentalist regime. Between Al-Queda´s Saudi roots, and the political turmoil in Venezuela, the US is forced to look elsewhere- towards Iraq, of course– to ensure continued market growth. In fact, some people are suggesting that France is hanging back from war support in order to secure better oil contracts for its companies in Iraq. Ultimately, though, it´s believed France not have the power (or desire) to block US desires within UN Security Council, because, although people wistfully talk about ´the rule of international law´, it is easy here to see the UN as just one more tool of the US. In this sense, people here perceive the US as both an imperialist and a rogue state, operating outside of and in disregards to international law.

But although US motives for war are clear, there is much fear here that the war will not be a clean, quick war for the US, like in Afganistan. There´s much discussion of the potential for a long, dirty war, complete with destruction of Iraq´s already decaying oil infrastructure (despite publicized US plans to immediately protect the oil fields upon attack). The press here is less willing to assume that America´s might will easily quash any opposition, and that a coup within Iraq will come easily at US prodding. The press here entertains Saddam´s many strategic options, including forcing the war into cities (maximizing civilian death), into the desert (minimizing press coverage opportunities), and using friendly foreign pressure to keep the war away from Bagdad. Importantly, Saddam has apparently installed around 10 media outlets underground, to prevent a repeat of US-dominated war images during the Gulf War. Although commentators entertain the possibility of a quick, clean war, necessary for further US imperialist aims, people lean more towards the sad prospect of a world completely destablized by a difficult war, expensive oil prices, and intensely inflamed Islamic anti-western actions.

Even within the European corporate world, concerns about the war run deep, in comparison to the ever-bouyant optimism of US multinationals (particularly that of US oil corporations, who just might drown in their saliva as their Bush admin. cohorts prepare Iraq´s oil fields to be carved up). While war fears have driven the the Dow Jones industrial down since Jan. 1, markets in western Europe have also taken severe falls, up iron. Is the war truly Bush´s ecomomic stimulas plan, people ask?

With the exception of Britain, it´s hard to find a public in Europe that supports the war. People are strongly against a war without UN support, and even with UN backing, public support is scattered. Moreover, people here know that there´s a strong anti-war movement within the US, and that even though US public support grew after Bush´s State of the Union address, it´s quite possible that, like during Vietnam, public support will quickly wane. But it´s also popular here to portray the US public as hopelessly addicted to cheap gas and MTV, happily oblivious as the US marches towards the mirage of cheap oil and the European public watches in horror.

Here in Barcelona, even people in the comfortable upper middle classes are vocally not only against the war but against the capitalist system. People can point directly to capitalism as the cause of world environmental distruction and hollow lives. But what is there to do about it, they say, besides be nice to people and live comfortable lives?

Thus, several things are clear: well-informed people across the world don´t go for US imperialist shit, but frequently national governments don´t give a damn. The downfalls of capitalism are blindingly obvious, and people are ready to work towards change. But they don´t know where to start!

Revolutionary thinkers need to articulate ways of radically changing the capitalist system, and lives within the system, actions that people across society and the world can grasp. The anti-war movement is strong within the US and Europe, and can be a tool for refocussing the anti-globalization movement into an anti-capitalist movement. This war is proposed for the sake of the US market, which, if you believe the Business section, has been primarily supported over recent months by that catchphrase, ´consumer confidence´. If growth is what the US government is after, we must stop growth in order to stop the war. To be more than a newspaper article and a global moral boost, anti-war movements must adopt tactics to force economic slowdowns while at the same time providing infrastructure that would be lost on days off work and out of stores. Consumer confidence, the willingness of people to purchase and consume, is a giant force. To stop the war, world environmental destruction, and US imperialism, we must replace consumer confidence, essentially the American way of life, with confidence in the power of people to provide for ourselves.